Last week I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) an event that saw the government of Kenya make clear its commitments to honoring the OGP guidelines of:
- Citizen engagement
- Government accountability.
Apart from this very exciting event, as usual i was on my fact finding mission of Africa development and of cause trying to identify what the other countries are doing right.
For one, Brazil is a super planned city. It is originally planned in the shape of a plane, where each wing, head, body, tail are sectors allocated different roles; Residency areas, government offices, hotels, shopping areas etc.
More than 50 years down the line, Brasilia is still very clean and what was most amazing for me is the fact that traffic rules are followed to the latter. The meters rule of vehicle driving distance is adhered to the latter, time keeping of opening and closing of premises is also highly regarded.
Now, please note that this article is not meant to be a pity party and hence will not make it such but it is a real lessons learnt kind of thinking. That said;
The taxis are fitted with meter systems meaning that you pay per distance covered and hence indicators like relation to the driver, bargaining power of the pedestrian, traffic and weather conditions do not come to play. The other country i visited with this was Egypt. This is a very effective system as it ensures that no there are set standards beyond the taxi yellow lines.
Brazil is greatly a “card economy.” Credit cards, debit cards are a norm; well at least for most (about 99%) of the places i visited, fast food joints included. Ill write a separate post on the benefits of a card against cash economy but just to quote a speaker from a conference, “Kenya must be the only place you go outside, withdraw cash from the ATM and go inside to use it at the Supermarket”
Customer service despite race, color or age was fantastic. Ok this might be a skewed observation as everything about me said “not local” but i still did take a back seat and observe so i might not be very far off.
Coming from Kenya, we all know of the Maasai Market at major shopping malls where authentic Kenyan ware and art is sold. I tried to find a “Brazilian market” and each time i was let to a big mall. This is when i realized that Brazil manufactures most of its wares and with a market big enough to create the demand, they hardly need to export or import most of the other labels that we are more familiar with.
Another example around this was at our layover in South Africa where visiting most of the bookshops at the airport, well probably over 60% of the books that really interested me were by South African Authors or were about South Africans. Thambo Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Rev. Desmond Tutu etc
Well i could go on and on but this is just a snap shot of the things that really caught my eye in my limited 3 day stay but that i think would be very crucial for Africa if implemented and followed to the later.
If only I was President of Africa..